Gordon Ramsay follows in Anthony Bourdain's footsteps. Sooo early 2000s. And the silly season repeats roll in.
Top 100 of 2011 (MTV Hits, Sky 060, 7.00pm). Whereas most of the free-to-air channels are seeing in the New Year through the magic of movie repeats, Sky channel MTV Hits is counting ’em down with the year’s hottest songs. What that means we don’t know, but we’re prepared to be offended by the scantiness of the clothes and the banality of the lyrics.
Gordon’s Great Escapes (TV1, 7.30pm). Gordon Ramsay goes where … every other cook has been before, including Rick Stein, whose series was on Prime recently, and Anthony Bourdain, who already ate the beating heart of a snake. Sooo early 2000s. For the first episode, Gordon is in what the British call “Southeast Asia”, Vietnam to us, where he meets the queen of beak-to-tail cooking, Mrs Duck, and takes over a traditional restaurant in an effort to impress the locals.
Miranda (TV1, 8.30pm). Repeats of the lovely little comedy series, but in a better time slot (thank you, silly season). Miranda Hart is beloved in the UK, and won a British Comedy Award in 2010 for Miranda, which she co-writes. In 2011, she was nominated for a Bafta. TV1 begins tonight with the third episode from season one, in which Miranda’s disappointed mother (played by Patricia Hodge) tells Miranda’s friend her daughter has a new job in television.
Outrageous Fortune (TV3, 8.30pm). TV3 fills up its silly season schedule with double episodes of season two of Outrageous. But that’s okay, because it’s good.
Hannah Montana – The Movie (TV2, 7.00pm). Hannah (Miley Cyrus) threatens the achy breaky heart of her dad (Billy Ray Cyrus) by being too much of a celeb, so it’s off to Tennessee and grandma for the brat. A long glittery TV episode for the girlies. (2009) 4 – Diana Balham
Dead Silence (Four, 8.30pm). A dull and predictable horror from the creators of Saw that pads down a familiar road that leads to … a town haunted by – in this case, the restless soul of an insane ventriloquist and her 101 evil puppets. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. (2006) 5 – Diana Balham
The Tree (Rialto, Sky 025, 8.30pm). Ignore the ridiculous tagline – “a family in mourning rediscover life with the help of a moreton bay fig” – and there’s a good little Aussie-French film in here. Eight-year-old Simone (Morgana Davis, who’s terrific) is convinced her dead father is speaking to her through the leaves of the huge tree next to their house. Mum (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who for some reason is French, has three other kids to look after as well and doesn’t quite know what to make of her daughter’s theory, but then the tree asserts itself … No, it’s not a horror, just a gentle drama that deals with grief in a quiet and understated way. Invercargill boy Marton Csokas also stars. (2010) 6 – Diana Balham
Hairspray (TV2, 9.10pm). Crazy dance fever in early 60s America that’s likeable for so many reasons, the chief one being John Travolta mercilessly sending himself up in a fat suit and flippy hair as the luscious and chubby Edna Turnblad. This remake of John Waters’s 1988 cult classic (which marked Divine’s swansong and turned Ricki Lake into a talkshow queen) stars Nikki Blonsky in the Ricki role of well-built teen Tracy Turnblad who just wants to dance and – wait a darned minute! – why shouldn’t we hang out with the coloured kids? (2007) 8 – Diana Balham
Utu (Maori, 9.30pm). Geoff Murphy scratched bravely away at a subject we didn’t talk about much in the 1980s – the Maori Land Wars, as we called them then, as if only Maori were involved. It’s a powerful story of terrible – and ultimately futile – acts of violence committed by Maori and Pakeha as they struggle to come to terms with each other. Everyone’s in this: Bruno Lawrence, Kelly Johnson, Ilona Rodgers, John Bach, Wi Kuki Kaa, Merata Mita, Martyn Sanderson, Sean Duffy, Ian Watkin – and Anzac Wallace, a trade union leader who had never acted before this. (1984) 7 – Diana Balham
Licence to Kill (TV1, 12.00am). A darker, more violent Bond who is motivated by revenge. Sounds familiar, but this is not Daniel Craig’s darker, more violent Bond; it’s Timothy Dalton’s. Dalton made just two Bond films (legal wrangling cut his secret agent career short), almost the same as Craig (the recession nearly did for his career as Bond, although another is currently filming, four years after the last one). Dalton wanted to play Bond closer to Fleming’s vision, but the many more gruesome deaths of Licence to Kill and its lack of humour did not impress audiences who, in the same year, were enjoying the likes of Indiana Jones and Ghostbusters. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting Bond, with decent action sequences and an unprecedented realism. (1989) 7
The Checks/Rackets, Recorded Live at Roundhead Studios (95bFM, 11.00am and Friday, 2.00pm). Apparently there is a “Devonport sound” and the Checks are at the centre of it. Considerably hairier and more grown-up-looking than when they started in 2003 as callow 15-year-olds, the five lads released a new album, Deadly Summer Sway, on 11/11/11. It’s quite a lot more sophisticated than their first effort when, in a school rock band competition, “all we had was a guitar riff with a gap where I would shout anything I could think of into the microphone before repeating the cycle”, says lead singer Ed Knowles. Fellow Aucklanders, alt rock punk boys Jeremy, Vinnie and Oscar, formed Rackets in 2009 and are based “in Ellerslie and Panmure”, so presumably peddle the “Ellerslie/Panmure sound”. This is what Jeremy said when asked about their most memorable gig to date: “We played outside a warehouse surrounded by towers of crates in Mt Wellington to two drunk teenagers making out. Our amps were inside shopping trolleys.” There will be live streaming and podcasts on 95bfm.com. – Diana Balham
Garrison Keillor’s Radio Show(Radio New Zealand National, 11.04am). Fans of this American gentleman’s much-loved programme, A Prairie Home Companion, will be delighted a season of highlights begins today. – Diana Balham
Music 101 – Summer Edition with Kirsten Johnstone (Radio New Zealand National, 12.12pm). An impressive five hours of Kiwi music, interviews and festival and tour reports to get you in the mood for partying like it’s 2012. Today’s New Year’s Eve line-up includes, The Secret Life of Skank (12.30pm), in which Nick Atkinson investigates how and why this beat is so essential to the New Zealand reggae sound; The Best Music of 2011 (1.15pm), Johnstone, Atkinson, Emma Smith and Trevor Reekie reveal their faves for the year; O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2.10pm), celebrating 10 years since the release of this sublime movie soundtrack of bluegrass and mountain music; Live: Shayne P Carter (3.10pm), the best bits of Carter’s Last Train to Brockville tour, recorded live at Auckland’s Kings Arms; and Mix Tape: James Milne, aka Lawrence Arabia (4.10pm), in which Milne trawls through his bin of top picks and explains which ones influenced his upcoming album. – Diana Balham
Global Sounds (Radio New Zealand Concert, 2.00pm). Cries that classical music is élitist certainly don’t apply to this band. Rise & Shine – Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars is the moving story of a group of refugees who were forced to relocate to Guinea during their country’s civil war during the 1990s. Their debut album, Living Like a Refugee, described life in the camps, but their second offering, Rise & Shine, finds the eight-man group looking to the future, while always remembering what has gone before. “We always intend to write songs about peace and love because we always remember our past. We came from a war-torn country. That’s why we never cease to remind people in our music to always remain in peace,” they say in their CD booklet. – Diana Balham